No. 10/11 Florida Gators basketball (2-1), still short-handed due to injuries and suspensions, pulled away in the second half for a dominant 86-56 victory over the Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans (0-2) at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL. After the victory, Florida head coach Billy Donovan met with the media to provide some of his thoughts on the defeat.
Donovan discussed how the emergence of redshirt sophomore forward Dorian Finney Smith and insertion of redshirt junior walk-on F Jacob Kurtz led the Gators to a second-half blowout.
“In the second half, DoeDoe and Jake, those two guys did an unbelievable job offensive rebounding, defensive rebounding, loose balls. That’s where the game really changed and opened up. When we eliminated those opportunities for them, it enabled us to get on the fastbreak, and that was the difference in the first half – eight points left at the free throw line and giving them nine points on loose balls. … That’s double-figure points you’re giving up in a half. I was happy it was tied the way we were playing.
“But we did a much better job on the glass, offense, everything else there in the second half. I was really, really pleased with the way we played, and more importantly, we finally got our assists back up to a number that I like instead of averaging seven a game.”
Florida finished the game with 16 assists to just nine turnovers. Freshman point guard Kasey Hill posted a 6.0 assist-to-turnover ratio with six dimes and no miscues.
A NEW TWO-MAN GANG
Unlike last season, the Gators have put up most of their points through the first three games with two players doing most of the heavy lifting. In the first two contests, it was senior forward Casey Prather and sophomore guard Michael Frazier II.
On Saturday, Prather continued his dominance for Florida, but Frazier saw a good amount of time on the bench due to a number of defensive miscues that infuriated Donovan. Replacing him as part of the two-man gang with Prather was Finney-Smith, who showed out big-time despite being under the weather with a viral infection.
Finney-Smith finished with 17 points (hitting 3-of-4 triples) and a team-high nine rebounds off the bench despite playing just 16 minutes. Donovan was impressed with what he saw overall.
“DoeDoe’s skill level opened up things for our team. He really opened up a lot of things for us,” he said. “Obviously he doesn’t feel great. He has a really bad sore throat. He doesn’t feel great. He feels better than he did on Wednesday, but he still doesn’t feel great. We’re hopeful that if he can maybe get some rest and fluids that he can start to kind of recover a little bit.”
Prather led the Gators in scoring for the second time in three games, posting a game-high 27 points (one shy of matching his career-high) on near-perfect 10-of-11 shooting. He also added five boards and five assists on the afternoon.
“I think it’s a testament to finally his awareness of himself. He has an awareness of himself, he does now what he’s capable of doing, where I thought earlier on in his career he did what he would love to do,” Donovan explained. “I think he’s playing with a really clear head, a great awareness of himself. He’s not doing things that he’s incapable of doing. He took one three tonight that was dead wide open and otherwise he’s been driving the ball, putting it on the floor, taking mid-range pull-up jump shots, getting fouled. He’s been doing a lot of different things. He’s really grown in a lot of ways.”
Continue Reading » 11/16: Florida vs. Arkansas-Little Rock post-game; two shine, two others headed for redshirts?